headspace Demand Management Strategy: Including lived experience voices to optimise digital interventions in youth mental health

Antonia Ottavio, Paul Rich and Oliver Ardill-Young

Background: At headspace Bondi Junction a surge in referrals followed COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, causing longer wait times for young people accessing mental health support. In response, a clinical redesign project was initiated.

Key solutions were the implementation of the health technology platform ‘Innowell’ to guide intake and assessment, and a peer worker acting as a digital navigator in young people’s mental health care journeys.

Aims: Decrease wait times:

  • Intake triage within 2 days compared to 8 days
  • Assessment within 2 weeks compared to 8 weeks
  • Psychological treatment within 1 month compared to 3 months

Reduce young people reporting ‘waiting too long’ for psychological treatment from 82% to 30%

Increase scores on an experience of service survey in domains of participation in care and the impact of care:

  • Participation: improve to 95% from 91%
  • Impact: improve to 70% from 65%

Methods: The project adopted a 5-stage implementation methodology with each stage co-designed with young people. Evaluation is mixed-methods, incorporating qualitative interviews with staff, young people and carers.

Results: Preliminary results demonstrate positive trends:

Wait times:

  • Intake within 4 days
  • Assessment within 2.14 weeks
  • Psychological treatment within 1.13 months

30% of young people reporting ‘waiting too long’

Experience of service:

  • Participation: 89%
  • Impact: 68%

Conclusions: Including lived experience voices in digital youth mental health interventions is vital and impactful. However, refinement is needed to optimise integration of a peer workforce.